by Jason and Brent
How did you get started in music?
My earliest recollections concerning music performance are doing music in church as a small child. Music became a passion (in both the best and worst sense) in my life. I purchased my first cassette player when I was fifteen, and my first album (Petra’s ‘Beat the System’) as well. It was not long after this that I realized that my musical tastes left something to be desired. By the time I went to college, I had bought a Fender Strat, and had begun to fixate on The Smiths, U2, and Depeche Mode. It was during this time that Lee, Glenn Black and I met Chris Foley. Luxury, or rather, what was to become Luxury, was born.
Luxury’s S/T disc is brilliant. Can you tell us about the writing and recording process behind that album?
Thank you for the compliment. As far as writing the record is concerned, with the exception of “Glenn says Death’s Head”, Lee was responsible for that end of things. We recorded that record at a time when the four of us were going through a great deal of life changes. Meaning kids, wives, and the need to provide for them. This prevented us from just going into the studio and making the record in a short period of time. What ended up happening was that we were somehow able to sucker Matt Goldman into devoting approximately six months to the project. He sweated blood over it, and did a great job pulling it together. For me, it was the most rewarding recording we have made. Chris and Glenn played amazingly, and Lee exceeded anything that he had done before. I simply had a lot of fun during the process.
After Luxury, you helped to form Canary. What is the status of Canary? How would you describe your experience in that band?
Canary began as my effort to deal with the trauma of a van wreck that nearly killed all of us in Luxury, back in 1995. That sounds a bit melodramatic, but so be it. It was a really terrible thing that produced some amazing changes in all of our lives, but at the time it really sucked. While the band members who were injured were recovering, I set out to write and record some of my own material, which I hadn’t really done before. This continued on until (much to my surprise) I realized that I had formed a band around these songs. Canary became “official” with the release of a sound of summer running in 2001.
Tell us about your transition between Canary and They Sang as They Slew? Why did you decide on another transition?
For me personally, I think that the change had something to do with putting something behind me that had needed to end for a while, but was continuing on simply by default. Canary had existed for so long as “Jamey’s band”, and this was something that I didn’t want. Simultaneously, the four of us were realizing that our music and approach to what we did as a band had changed quite a bit. We decided that we needed a total shift in our identity as a band, and all four of us immediately agreed that They Sang As They Slew was the name and identity that we were looking for.
Incidentally, the name was something that my brother Lee came up with quite a while back, so he should get proper credit for it. I think he’s angry that we nicked it.
Can you describe for us your musical growth as an artist through Luxury, Canary and TSATS?
I’m not sure that I can describe it. For one thing, I’m never satisfied with where I am musically, so it makes it difficult for me to see any growth. Though when I look back, it is pretty obvious to see that all of us in both bands have grown and moved forward as artists and musicians. I think that I might know five chords now, which is a net improvement of three chords since I started playing guitar fifteen years ago.
I have actually really learned to love the process of making music, and treating it as a discipline. Meaning that when I get home from work, I set time aside each night to write and / or record music, or to do research on how to make or refine my music -building process. Naturally, this obsession does not always put me in my wife’s good favor.
How are the songs coming on TSATS? What is the writing process like and is it any different from your former bands?
The new record is almost finished, aside from the art work. I am really excited about it, but it is going to be the death of me if I can’t get it done soon. Writing music is pretty much writing music, to me. But the way TSATS gets to the final “product” is a good bit different than Luxury’s approach. Or, at least it has a different feel about it, if that makes any sense. I can’t really explain this, but it has been a challenge getting used to writing with three people other than Lee, Glenn, and Chris. In most ways, TSATS is quite laid back in its general mood, which meshes well with my overly-zealous tendencies.
Any news about the rumored Luxury disc soon to be forthcoming?
Yes, I have to finish it. Two songs to go.
Are there any artists that you would call influences on your music? What are you listening to now-a-days?
My temptation here is to try to dredge up some ultra-hip band to name-drop and make myself feel cool, but I think I’ll avoid this and speak honestly. I like 80’s music. Actually, I love it. I think that “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs may have been the single most influential song in my life. Either that or “Blasphemous Rumors” by Depeche Mode. Go figure. It’s not as if anything that TSATS does sounds anything like this stuff, mind you.
That said, I have actually grown quite fond of death Cab’s Transatlanticism, Dove’s Last Broadcastand Grandaddy’s Sumday. Additionally, I think that the new Mars Volta is over-rated, that Mogwai ‘s Young Team could change lives, that Coldplay makes big-budget pop/rock feel good again, and that I will never, ever understand what praise and worship music is.
Now I’ve said too much.
Any other comments or contact information?
Yes. Thanks for reading through my random drivel, and visit us at theysangastheyslew.com.